More than 100 charities and organisations from Essex’s thriving social enterprise sector came together at a one-day conference at Anglia Ruskin University today for a masterclass in social investment.
The event - A Bridge to Social Investment - gave 140 delegates a chance to hear from experts about how alternative finance options can stimulate growth and inspire organisations to create pioneering solutions with Essex communities.
The conference, run by Social Enterprise East of England on behalf of the Essex Partnership, also saw the launch of the Social Investment Readiness Programme, which will prepare 20 organisations for investment to diversify their income base.
Cllr Kevin Bentley, Deputy Leader of Essex County Council and Cabinet Member for Economic Growth, Skills, Infrastructure & the Digital Economy, said: “The Essex Partnership identified the need to stimulate social investment to create a strong and resilient voluntary, community and social enterprise sector (VSCE) that is best equipped to face the challenges of the future. This will increase the ability to deliver activities, which are more embedded in local communities and therefore better placed to find solutions for complex social issues, while helping to boost economic growth.
“In February, we announced our Supporting Communities Fund which includes an element of crowdfunding, exactly the kind of alternative finance we’re discussing here today.
“It is designed to support the creation of community-led activities which promote the social, environmental or economic wellbeing of our communities.
“We want to work with a wider range of collaborators, and are keen to attract ideas from the wider community, to support initiatives which can make a real difference to people’s lives in the county.”
The conference launched the Social Investment Readiness Programme, which runs from September 2017 to March 2018. Social enterprises and charities are invited to apply for support by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline for expressions of interest is 30 June 2017.
Eligible organisations must have been running for at least two years, have an annual turnover of at least £100,000 and generate a quarter of its income from trading.